As Torquay United seasons go, 2021/22 was like a hangover after a lavish wedding and the honeymoon a long weekend in Boreham Wood or Eastleigh or Woking or the usual cut price locations of the National League. There were very few, if any, stratospheric highs of the previous so near and yet so Simon Mather interrupted play off final season, a season that had an incredible starry cast cruelly decimated by injury. This season saw less than 4 weeks from Ashton Gate to pre-season preparation with a hastily assembled new squad of untried and untested players, a manic Monday of numerous new signings reeled out and played out on Twitter and in the main, the transfer haste showed.
On the eve of this weekend’s Chesterfield game, our last home game of the season, Torquay are sitting 10th in the table, a position that on reflection is a loftier position than many could foresee back at the tail end of September with a squad of square pegs, round holes and a goalkeeper chronically lacking in confidence.
The season started with a whimper, gained momentum but ultimately fell short of returning to the promised land of league football.
This group of players deserve a lot of credit for not giving up, continuing to push on with the limitations of a very small squad and the burning issue that has loomed large; the lack of a proven goal-scorer and with all the deliberations of where this squad has fallen short over the course of the season, this eclipses the lot.
In the absence of a hot shot centre forward there have still been some stand out performances and a high level of quality in this squad. Here’s the notable players who have continually produced the standard that belies their National League status.
Shaun MacDonald – part of the keeper rotation of season 20/21, prior to Mac’s re-introduction in September, the team were like rabbits caught in the floodlights. His re-signing has been the catalyst for our improvement on the pitch. An excellent season for Mac and the confidence imbued in the team obvious.
Armani Little – on his day a joy to behold, creative, graceful, energetic and our saviour on many occasions. The winner of the Gulls golden boot award, to boot!
Joe Lewis – an incredible talent, a sturdy, strong, reliable defender, plays like an experienced championship player yet is still only 22.
Ben Wynter – super reliable, part of the TQ1 furniture, a player who has grown with maturity into this season after the first team jitters pre-Macdonald.
Dean Moxey – the elder statesman of the back four and how important his presence and experience has been to the team. His years in the game, notwithstanding his time in the premier league, have enabled others to watch and learn.
Conor Lemonheigh-Evans – a player with poise, pace, skills, balance and awareness and capable of great things. A player that really should have been on 20 goals this season but for some momentary hesitance, but a talent who is a crowd pleaser.
Whether we will see these players again in a Torquay shirt next season remains to be seen. We can but hope we will and with master of ceremonies Gary Johnson promising to push on and go all out next season strengthening the squad, we have a lot to thank these players for, so a summer break and then onto a new season that can only get better. COYY.